Variation in excess mortality across the federal states of Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic: the role of reported morbidity and selected structural factors
On September 29, the regular scientific seminar "Modern Demography" of the International Laboratory for Population and Health at HSE University took place. Marina Kolobova, resercher in the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock (Germany) and the University of Rostock (Germany) made a presentation on the topic: “Variation in excess mortality across the federal states of Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic: the role of reported morbidity and selected structural factors”.
The seminar was opened by Evgeny .M. Andreev, Head of the International Laboratory for Population and Health. Further, M. Kolobova made a report, noting that today's presentation is largely the result of the joint work of colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock University, and the HSE University.
Initially, the speaker noted that weekly excess mortality is a reliable indicator of human losses due to short-term risk factors such as epidemics or heat waves. In this case, excess mortality is estimated for all causes combined, to avoid questions about whether a death is associated with COVID-19 or not.
Further, M. Kolobova dwelled on various methods for estimating excess mortality as the difference between the observed and expected mortality rate and on the available databases that allow such calculations, among which the most complete is the STMF database created on the HMD platform.
The speaker then presented an overview of previous work on the estimation of excess mortality at the subnational level in the USA, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and other countries, which show regional differentiation. Thus, the USA has the highest excess mortality in comparison with Italy, Spain, but only three states concentrate 30% of excess mortality. In Italy there is a gradient from north to south. In Spain, the northern regions were also hit hardest, but the central ones, especially Madrid, were even more severely affected. In Sweden there is no express definite gradient, but Stockholm suffered more. In England, London also had the highest excess mortality.
Further, M. Kolobova cited the results of previous studies in Germany, which showed significant regional differences in mortality and morbidity from COVID-19.She further noted that this report provides a systematic analysis of excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic at the level of the German federal states in 2020 and 2021, as well as its relationship with reported morbidity and selected structural indicators of the regions.
The conducted analysis showed that there is some discrepancy between the patterns of COVID-19 incidence and excess mortality during the pandemic. Thus, the gradient of registered morbidity of COVID-19 is observed from south to north, while the gradient of excess mortality is from east to west. There is also a strong impact of COVID-19 incidence on excess mortality accumulated over the study period.
As a result of the study, no statistical relationship was found between most of the selected socio-economic indicators and excess mortality. However, the employment structure of the subnational population may contribute to explaining the spatial fluctuations in excess mortality in Germany.
Marina Kolobova's report was listened to with interest and raised several questions and discussion, in which M. Vergeles, E. Kotyrlo, M. Sirotko, E. Andreev and others took part.